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Insufferable Pain, Could It Be TMJ?

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Millions suffer from it, and for some, the pain is unbearable.

Others have just learned to live with the symptoms, because they can't figure out what's causing it.

Brittany Bartilson has been suffering with debilitating pain and headaches for 13-years.

"It was brutal, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat well," Bartilson says.

She went from specialist to specialist diagnosed with one thing after another.

"Surgery to fix my nose, my jaw, allergy medication, migraines, spine misalignment," Bartilson says.

For this mother of two, the pain and lack of sleep was causing problems even her husband couldn't discount.

"My husband was like we have to fix this because we can't carry on."

Finally a cosmetic dentist diagnosed her with what is commonly referred to as T-M-J pain.

"Mainly TMJ pain comes from clenching or grinding their teeth, they are ramming their join into the socket over and over," Dr. Kourosh Maddahi said.

The doctor says this could be at night, during the day, stress is a cause so is a bad bite that might need orthodontics.

How do you know if TMJ is a problem?

You wake up in the morning with a headache, your jaw is tired, or you can't sleep well.

Millions of people suffer with TMJ, but it mostly affects women ages 20 to 45, and for them there's not only pain, but a change in appearance.

"Teeth are being worn down, causes lines and folds on the corner of the lips. Face starts to get squished on the lower one third, teeth become short, when they smile you cannot see the teeth," Dr. Maddahi says.

Brittany's solution came from this, a custom-fitted hard plastic nightguard.

"Two nights with a nightguard, night and day difference," she said.

Some doctors also use Botox to ease the pain.

"What the Botox does is it disables the muscles by 30 percent. Not able to put that much pressure on their teeth or the nightguard."

Brittany says finding the answer changed her life.

"Amazing, I sleep, I play with my kids during the day, no headaches."

Now she's able to be the wife and mom she wants to be.

If you have any of these symptoms you might want to see your dentist for a TMJ evaluation.

The nightguards are usually covered by insurance.

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